Year in Review: 2016 in 12 Charts (and a video)


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Between the social, political, and economic upheavals affecting our lives, and the violence and forced displacement making headlines, you’d be forgiven for feeling gloomy about 2016. A look at the data reveals some of the challenges we face but also the progress we’ve made toward a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable future. Here are 12 charts that help tell the stories of the year.

1.The number of refugees in the world increased.

At the start of 2016, 65 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes , up from 60 million the year before. More than 21 million were classified as refugees. Outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, most refugees live in cities and towns, where they seek safety, better access to services, and job opportunities. A recent report on the "Forcibly Displaced" offers a new perspective on the role of development in helping refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities, working together with humanitarian partners. Among the initiatives is new financial assistance for countries such as Lebanon and Jordan that host large numbers of refugees.

2. The global climate change agreement entered into force.

The pact negotiated in Paris in 2015 was ratified by 118 of the 194 countries that signed it , triggering new commitments to combat global warming. One of the agreement’s major goals is to promote a shift to low-carbon energy. Demand for renewable energy is picking up in developing countries as prices decline. In May, Africa saw its lowest solar price to date when the winning bid to develop large-scale photovoltaic solar plants in Zambia came in at 6 cents per kilowatt hour – or 4.7 cents/kwh, spread over 20 years.  That followed bids as low as 3 cents in the United Arab Emirates and 4.5 cents in Mexico. Renewables are now cost competitive in many markets and increasingly seen as mainstream sources of energy, according to REN21.

3.Global trade weakened.

In 2016, global trade growth recorded its weakest performance since the global financial crisis . Trade volumes stagnated for most of the year, with weak global investment playing an important role, as capital goods account for about one third of world goods trade. Trade has been a major engine of growth for the global economy and has helped cut global poverty in half since 1990. A trade slowdown, therefore, could have implications for growth, development, and the fight against poverty.

4. More people had access to mobile phones than to electricity or clean water.

Access to mobile phones has surged in low- and middle-income countries,  but many of the other benefits of the digital revolution – such as greater productivity, more opportunity for the poor and middle class, and more accountable governments and companies — have not yet spread as far and wide as anticipated, according to the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report on the Internet, “Digital Dividends.” The report says greater efforts must be made to connect more people to the Internet and to create an environment that unleashes the benefits of digital technologies for everyone.

5. A third of all people were under the age of 20.

In around 40 African countries, over 50% of the population is under 20.  By contrast, in 30 richer countries, less than 20% of the population is under 20. As the 2015/2016 Global Monitoring Reports notes, the world is on the cusp of a major demographic transition that will affect countries along the development spectrum.

6. 600 million jobs will be needed in the next 10 years.

One third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people are currently neither in employment, education nor training. Of the one billion more youth that will enter the job market in the next decade, only 40% are expected to be able to get jobs that currently exist. The future of work is changing, and the global economy will need to create 600 million jobs over the next 10 years  to keep pace with projected youth employment rates.

7. 1 in 3 people did not have access to a toilet.

The UN estimates that 2.4 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation facilities , nearly one billion of whom practice open defecation. Good sanitation is a foundation for development - conditions such as diarrhea are associated with poor sanitation, and left untreated, can lead to malnutrition and stunting in children. This year’s first High-Level Panel on Water brought together world leaders with a core commitment to ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

8. Most of the world’s extreme poor lived in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. 

While over 1 in 10 people lived in extreme poverty globally in 2013, in Sub-Saharan Africa, that figure was 4 in 10, representing 389 million people - that's more poor people than all other regions combined, according to the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report.

..but extreme poverty is declining worldwide

And while the numbers of extremely poor remain unacceptably high, data in the report reveal the tremendous progress the world has made lifting people out of poverty since 1990:

9. By 2030, two thirds of the world will live in cities .

The world's 12 largest city areas are each home to more than 15 million people, and over the last 25 years, cities such as Delhi, Shanghai and Beijing have tripled in size. Today, more than half the world lives in cities, and those cities are responsible for more than 80% of global GDP. However, the high density of people, jobs, and assets which make cities so successful also makes them vulnerable to the wide range of natural and man-made shocks and stresses increasingly affecting them today. The “Investing in Urban Resilience” report discusses how cities can take action to build resilience, protect hard-won development gains, and create a safer, more prosperous future.

10: A record number of economies carried out business reforms.

Doing Business 2017 found that 137 economies worldwide implemented 283 business regulatory reforms last year.  This represents an increase of more than 20% over the previous year. Areas of reform included starting a business, paying taxes, getting credit and registering property. Notably, 54 of the world’s poorest countries implemented 113 reforms, and New Zealand ranked first in the ease of doing business among 190 economies.

11. Tobacco smoking has increased in over 20 countries.

Smoking rates went up between 2000 and 2015 in a number of mostly low- and middle-income countries.  In Indonesia, for example, the rate went up by almost 30% over the period, making the country home to more than 70 million smokers. Tobacco use kills 6 million people a year - one person every six seconds. If left unchecked, this number could rise to 8 million a year by 2030.

12.The world’s poorest countries got a record level of support 

A coalition of more than 60 governments representing both developed and developing countries committed to a record $75 billion replenishment for the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the  poorest. Over the past 25 years, countries assisted by IDA have seen progress on many fronts. These include greater access to clean water and sanitation, improvements in school completion rates, and higher rates of childhood vaccination.

10 Best World Bank Moments 2016
December 27, 2016

No words about Oil and Gas? Br

World Development
May 23, 2019

What does consumption of fossil fuel do for the development of 2nd or 3rd world countries? Oil and gas for only for the corporations of the world. Only for greed.

December 26, 2016

Good report

Casilda de la Hera Jaudenes
May 23, 2019

Very interested to know different parameter of real world.

Beny SAM
May 23, 2019


Stephen Jenkins
May 23, 2019

Good info and a stark look at where we are heading, not all rosy

May 23, 2019

great information compiled.

Adele Potter
December 29, 2016

Interesting and informative. Gender and education chart would have been interesting by top 10 largest economies.

December 29, 2016

Educating it can really help...but there is no report on wold exchange rate and fluctuation in the world oil price and other world commodities..tanx a lot

December 28, 2016

Excellent brief

Natural Planet
December 28, 2016

Con una gran despensa de recursos alimenticios y ambientales.
Los estamos devorando en un corto tiempo

Ramesh Raizada
December 28, 2016

It is encouraging and hopeful report.Yes, if this trend continues, it will be great achievement.

May 23, 2019

what type of progress are you talking about????????

December 28, 2016

Excellent Report. India's position could be highlighted specifically.

joseph adjei
December 28, 2016

A very comprehensive report giving a global overview. I believe it will help policy formulators

Gurdeep Singh Sohal
December 28, 2016

Dr Kim,
Please continue with your persistence in developing the third World Countries. The need reflects how sensitive the situation is for the unfortunate!
Warmest regards,
Gurdeep Singh Sohal.
United Kingdom.

Nwaezuoke Kenechukwu
December 28, 2016

All i see is good News!

December 28, 2016

Great information. Good progress. Keep it up

Robert de Kruyff
December 28, 2016

Weak performance in global trade growth over the past five years is surprising against the background of many of the other indicators such as the reduction of extreme poverty. The outcome of an analysis of causality and relationship of these development indicators would be very interesting indeed.

December 29, 2016

good article

Vinh Nguyen
December 29, 2016

Very interesting report with charts!

Prof. José Gregorio Castro Gutiérrez
December 29, 2016

Excellent and interesting summary; Very didactic and illustrative. I shared it in my social networks.
Merry Christmas and Happy 2017 Carpe diem. Namaste.
#Climate change

December 30, 2016

A very insightful report. Please do more to provide technological advancement for sub - saharan Africa.. Thanks.

December 30, 2016
very nice report, I wana traslate it in persian.

Mohamed A w Damji
December 30, 2016

V Hard work All B BLESSED

Zenebe Gezehagn
December 30, 2016

All other nations have a good progress in poverty reduction. But still now African nation and countries have headeck on poverty reduction? Why why? I have a study on poverty in our country in Ethiopia. What are determinants of poverty in Ethiopia. May I have some answers for this question.

Donna Barne
May 23, 2019

Thanks for your comment - you may be interested in the World Bank’s last Ethiopia Poverty Assessment.

December 30, 2016

The level of poverty in Sub Sahara Africa is scary.

Peter Verreyken (Belgium)
December 31, 2016

This is very interesting information. Thanks!

Emilia lemos
December 31, 2016

Muito interessante. ótimo para as aulas de Geografia.
Para quando uma versão em português?

Makinde Adegboyega
December 31, 2016

Nice yardstick for us involved in the world to prepare.

Think globally and act locally
January 01, 2017

The report is excellent summary of global significant issues and concerns for both current and future generation's wellbeing (our twin goals). Ending greed and renaissance of moral/values and political commitment by the global and local actors in accepting realities (governance) would have significantly supported the achievement of our twin goals. What can we do differently in this front???

Festo Mwebaze
January 01, 2017

This is a great article that every CEO should evestigate to inform decision making for the organisations. I wish politicians would refer to such reports as well to make governance decisions

Ravinder Kumar
January 01, 2017

Overall condition are improving in terms of social awareness as per the report. Poverty, drinking water, health and pollution reduction are the main area for development in the year 2017.

Roy Ramage
January 01, 2017

The limits to growth are being reached. We face a banquet of consequences and the above statistics amply demonstrate. Good luck everybody.

January 02, 2017

Excellent. Very useful information provided for all concerned.

January 02, 2017

Excellent brief - very informative

January 02, 2017

Excellent summary
Useful information

Agapito Carmelo S Nagrampa Jr
January 02, 2017

The report is very insightful and enlightening. Every development practitioners ought to benefit from this and the promise it can possibly bring for our better future.

January 03, 2017

Great charts, good work

Robert Dee
January 02, 2017

Fascinating statistics but graphics spoiled by unnecessary use of varying shades of a single colour.

January 03, 2017

Excellent summary.

January 04, 2017

Worth reading

Patricio Marquez
January 04, 2017

Dear Tariq and Donna--Many thanks for sharing this excellent summary. On the tobacco epidemic, please allow me to make a couple observations:
As shown in figure 11, while in some countries tobacco use has increased, we need to keep in mind that despite increasing global population between 2007 and 2013, smoking prevalence has actually declined worldwide from 23% in 2007 to 21%. In 2013, 21% of adults globally were current smokers – 950 million men and 177 million women (WHO 2015). The total remains at 1.1 billion smokers globally in 2013. Smoking prevalence is highest in high-income countries, with a quarter of adults (25%) in 2013 being current smokers. In contrast, 21% of adults living in middle-income countries and 16% of adults in low-income countries were current smokers (WHO 2015 Global Tobacco Report).
Although most of the countries with the greatest reductions in male smoking are high-income countries, smoking prevalence has also substantially decreased in many low- to middle-income countries (LMICs). However, many other LMICs have made only slight reductions or have even experienced an increase in their smoking prevalence. Most of these countries are located in Southern and Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. For example, with no reduction in smoking prevalence from 1980 to 2013, Indonesia has more than 50 million male daily smokers, and ranks third globally for the number of male smokers. If current tobacco trends continue, smoking prevalence in men and women combined in Africa will increase from 16% in 2010 to 22% in 2030, most of which is expected to be among men. Because the African population is growing much more rapidly than the rest of world, Africa will see a much higher number of male smokers in the future if no additional tobacco control policies are implemented (The Tobacco Atlas 2015. American Cancer Society/World Lung Foundation).
Since the adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2015--the first global health treaty-the number of people worldwide protected by effective tobacco control measures continues to grow. More than half of the world’s countries, with 40% of the world’s population (2.8 billion people up from 2.3 in 2013) have implemented at least one measure at the highest level of achievement--an increase of half a billion people (7% of the world’s population). The number of countries implementing at least one measure at the highest level has increased by 11 since 2012, from 92 to 103.
A key point to highlight is that despite the fact that raising tobacco taxes to more than 75% of the retail price is among the most effective and cost-effective tobacco control interventions (it costs little to implement and increases government revenues), only a few countries have increased tobacco taxes to best practice level. Raising taxes is the least implemented measure – with only 10% of the world’s people living in countries with sufficiently high taxes – and is the measure that has seen the least improvement since the FCTC began to be implemented.
Overall, the big picture is promising: we are moving in the right direction. But it is not enough. Without significant tobacco taxation, cigarettes remain affordable to the world’s billion-plus smokers, and we risk reversing the progress made on other measures.

January 04, 2017

How is it possible that more people have access to mobile phone than electricity? My cell does not work without electricity. I wish it could. Maybe it is time to review the concept of access to services and how it is measured.

Katia Diaz
January 04, 2017

Very good summary of data of some state of the art relevant topics. Congrats!, a great way to enhance data literacy around current issues and focus actions.

angelica silvero
January 04, 2017

Fantastic work! Very useful!

January 05, 2017

No much is told about Quality Education! We believe equality and same access to reading material SHARING #OneWorldOneAcademicLibrary and cross borders collaboration would significantly influence QUALITY of education delivery and cure most development issues including poverty, #AIDDE.

Chunmei Li
January 06, 2017

"more mobile phones than toilets" - something seriously wrong with this picture!
It's about time to stop lumping sanitation with water together. It's misleading. On graphic 12, it shows that sanitation has much less improvement comparing to water and all the other indicators.

Tien Viet Tran
January 07, 2017

Thank you for this well made report with so much useful information that I may use for my studies in the future. Hope the world will be a better place in this new year!